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Physics in materials science

  1. Mar 19, 2014 #1
    I would like to hear of somebody with experience in the area of materials science (theoretical/computational or experimental) the answer to the following question: What kind of Physics knowledge one must have to work in this area. I mean, how much of the basic Physics stuff you must know and how do you use it in your work. I have been asking myself this because to me it looks like none of the advanced stuff (like quantum mechanics, advanced electromagnetism, statistical physics, solid state, etc) is really used in the area and what trully matters is knowing the things only related to materials characteristics, things that I think are more common that a chemist would know. Since I don't know anyone who works in the field, I asked here.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2014 #2


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    I would suggest you open a solid state textbook, such as the one by Kittel or Ashcroft/Mermin. After you get through the free-electron/Drude model, practically everything else is the application of quantum mechanics! Just look at the Bloch wavefunction for starters.

  4. Mar 19, 2014 #3


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    Solid state physics is the theoretical basis for materials science. For computational materials science you might want to look into techniques like density functional theory.
  5. Mar 20, 2014 #4
    Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics are needed whenever you study materials that undergo phase transitions, or high temperatures/pressures are important
    Elasticity theory and continuum mechanics are needed when studying the impact of defects on the mechanical properties.

    Electromagnetics is necessary for those work in ferroelectric and magentic materials.

    As mentioned above solid state physics/ Density functional theory are needed whenever you study crystalline solids.

    If you plan to study water/semiconductor or water/metal interfaces then a bit of electrochemistry and liquid state physics are needed.

    If you study amorphous metal oxides then you may need all the above :biggrin:
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